Small But Deadly - Good Things Come in Small Packages #1

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Small But Deadly - Good Things Come in Small Packages #1

Postby Demitri » Jun 2nd, '05, 21:08

Hello, everyone and welcome to the first of what I hope will be many packet trick reviews. As you can see, the title of my reviews will be "Good Things Come in Small Packages" - and, as long as you'll have me, I would be happy to review any packet tricks you'd like to learn about (assuming I have or know the effect, of course).

For my inaugural review, I thought I'd begin my adventure with what will quickly become the bible of packet tricks. Without further adieu:

”Small But Deadly” – Paul Hallas

Hard Cover – 174 pages.

Some black and white photos (no photo instructions included)


$35 (US) – About £19 (I hope I got my exchange rate right)[/

(1=easy to do, 2=No sleights, but not so easy, 3=Some sleights used,
4=Advanced sleights used, 5=Suitable for experienced magicians only)

Varies – Some effects in the book are easier than others. On the average, I’d say 3-5, as it already assumes you know basic moves and sleights.


The subtitle for this book is “The Packet Trickster’s Handbook” and that’s exactly what this is. A book about the history, theory and methodology of packet tricks. Mr. Hallas has researched this area exhaustively, and as a result, has delivered a book overflowing with ideas, inspiration, and even a good amount of existing tricks and routines.

At its’ core, Small But Deadly is a history book. Hallas gives the history on packet tricks, from the first marketed packet trick (Phantom Cards by Theodore DeLand) all the way to newer effects like NFW and Presto Printo.

Some of the effects described and discussed:

Six Card Repeat
Homing Card
11 Card Trick
Rough Return
Marlo’s Oil and Water (and it’s many variations/spin-offs)
Hamman Packet tricks
Tipsy Cards
Roy Walton’s Oil and Queens (and it’s many variations)
Wild Card
Peter Duffie packet tricks (Clone Zone is a great effect – mentioned in the book)

There are so many more – so I won’t waste time typing every single effect mentioned. It’s too hard to remember them all!

Mr. Hallas has taken the time to properly pay respects to some of the true innovators of packet magic, by offering brief, but well-researched histories of specific magicians and inventors (Bro. Hamman, Alex Elmsley, Charles T. Jordan – this book reveals that even HE never used his own count!). This was a nice touch, and it’s something cool to see – as it gives more than just a trick-by-trick delivery. Mr. Hallas’ effort is shining through every page. He lays out the method and presentations for every effect, and in some cases the work behind it them, as well. After the history, creator and presentation is explained, Mr. Hallas also offers up names of variations to the tricks that have come afterwards. This is where the book takes on a new, wonderful role.

Not only is he giving you a history lesson, Mr. Hallas also points you right where you need to look. If you see an effect in the book that you like, he cites numerous sources where you can go to find it. So, not only does the book deliver as a historical overview, it is also an essential reference tool for packet tricks.

The explanations of the tricks can be a little tricky, if you don’t know what you’re doing. The book doesn’t take the time (nor should it, given the target audience) to show you the handlings for every count. Mr. Hallas expects you to know your Elmsley, Jordan, and Hamman counts! However, if you have these and other basic sleights in your bag of tricks, the explanations are clear and easy to follow.

Throughout the book, Mr. Hallas reveals the work behind some classic effects, which is a wonderful inclusion. However, at the end of the book, Mr. Hallas offers a collection of packet effects that are worth the price of the book, alone.

These effects include some packet tricks that Mr. Hallas has on the market. While nearly all of them require gimmick cards of some sort, you CAN make them yourself, or substitute. And if you don’t want to do that, Mr. Hallas is quick to point out where you can find his effects.

Some of the effects in the book:

Not Another Three Card Trick (Hallas)
Magician shows four blank faced cards. Each time a blank card is rubbed on his sleeve, it become a “three” (hence the name of the trick) Magician has difficult making the final card appear, suddenly realizing he he was holding the card the wrong way up. Turning it over, he reveals the pips are on the BACK of the card.

The Vain Queen (Mark Townsend)
Magician tells a story of a vain queen who, upon seeing wrinkles, calls upon her jester for advice. Paranoid, the queen mistakenly makes her own face disappear. In a panic, she makes herself disappear entirely. All is not lost – the queen calls upon her jester once more. He offers to save her, but in return she must be his other half and love him more than herself. Agreeing, the queen reappears, now fused to the other side of the jester. This is a great effect. Will require some practice to get it smooth, but it’s definitely worth it.

Vampire Dawn (Hallas)
A blank card is shown and laid face down on the table. Magician then shows 4 vampire cards. As the sun is about to come up, one by one the vampires turn back and try to get to their coffins. When the faces are revealed, the vampires are gone. The magician says that while they made it back, they all had an unexpected visitor. The spectator turns over the original card on the table, revealing the calling card of Prof. Van Helsing, Vampire Hunter.

This effect, I’m sure, sounds familiar to many of you. Still, it’s a great variation – and worth finding or making.

The Beautiful Witch (Hallas)

This is a variation of Vampire Dawn in which 4 ugly witches undergo a magical transformation, becoming 4 beautiful women. For a kicker, the magician says that people still remember them as witches, since they travel on their broomsticks – turning over the cards to reveal all of the beautiful woman cards have broomsticks on the backs.

Like Vampire Dawn – this is a cool effect. Works well for children’s shows.

Paul’s Bread and Butter Trick (Hallas)

This is Hallas’ variation of Walton’s Oil and Queens. Cards are shown – some are butter and some are bread. Spectator is given a mix of cards and the magician keeps the rest. With a rub of his pile, the spectator notices something is amiss. Revealing his cards, he has only butter cards. The spectator, expecting to find all bread cards, turns them over to find all sandwich cards. The magician then points out that the spectator owes him money, turning over a card to reveal a sign that says “Sandwiches for sale!”

Good variation on the original concept of the trick. While the theme makes it seem more suited to children’s shows, the surprise ending is certainly strong enough for adults.

The Monster Mash (Hallas)

This is Hallas’ variation of McDonald’s Aces using cards with pictures of monsters and blank faced cards which represent fog. I won’t go into the details of this, as McDonald’s Aces is a very well-known effect. This is a good variation, and worth checking out.

That’s not all, just some of the effects. All of them are good for nearly any condition. Some can be adapted for stage or parlor shows. Each of the tricks mentioned above are strong, visual and pack a great punch. Some are variations of tricks you know, and some may be new to you.

This is yet another great thing about this book. Perhaps you own a specific packet trick (for the sake of argument, say it’s a Wild Card variation). With the information and details in this book, you can work out and adapt the original handlings (or one of many variations) into tricks you already know, to give those old dust collectors a new shine!


This book is for nearly any magician or hobbyist. If you love packet tricks (like I do), then you have to have this. If you like studying the history of magic, then this should be in your library. If you’re looking to see just where Daryl got the idea for Presto Printo – then this book will tell you. Or, if you are capable of creating your own gaffs, and you’re looking for an economical way to get your hands on some powerful packet tricks – this book is definitely for you. You get nearly 20 effects in this book. Most packet tricks go for $10-15 a piece, so this is almost a steal!

Whatever your reasons or interests – this book will almost certainly be a helpful addition to your magic library. Pick up a copy as soon as possible! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have TONS of gaff cards to make!!!

Rating: 10/10

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Postby bananafish » Jun 2nd, '05, 21:36

I totally agree. One of my favourite books...

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Postby MagicAL » Jun 3rd, '05, 00:32

Blimey! Thats a review and a half!

This book sounds fantastic! I want one now! :D

Anyhow, where did you guys get it from? Is it only availabe from the states or does anyone know where you can get it in the UK? I have done a search for it, but could not find anything (But im not very good at searching though!)

I had a look at davenports and Internationals sites too with no joy?

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Postby bananafish » Jun 3rd, '05, 07:47

Magic Books by Post list it for £28

And Martin Breese has a huge selection uf used and new books.

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Re: Small But Deadly - Good Things Come in Small Packages #1

Postby Magic1Jim » Sep 4th, '18, 08:31

I've just picked this book up, i cannot wait. I am a sucker for packet tricks


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